Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze

November  8, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

My son loves my sweet potato soup. I feel as if I just won ten James Beard Awards from this tiny critic who would always rather be eating yogurt. He looked at the spoon tentatively before the first bite. I could practically see the thought bubble pop up beside his head. “This is orange?! No thank you, Mama.” I persisted and he opened his mouth. He slurped, nodded, and opened his mouth right back up again. We did it again. And again. I couldn’t help but kiss his round cheeks in between each bite. He was eating my food. He liked it. And it was good for him.

In my acceptance speeches, I will have to thank these sweet potato cinnamon buns. While working on the recipe, I had roasted so many extra potatoes that I had to find another use for them. Like my baby, I love sweet potatoes in all forms, but I’m especially fond of adding them to sweet breads. They add flavor and give them a pillow-soft texture. Swirled with cinnamon and topped with luscious cream cheese glaze, these guys made for a lovely indulgence after such a nutritious lunch.

Reprinted with permission from THE JOYS OF BAKING © 2019 by Samantha Seneviratne, Running Press.Samantha Seneviratne

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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze
  • Prep time 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes 10 buns
  • Dough
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for bowl and skillet
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup roasted and puréed sweet potato flesh (from 1 potato)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, if necessary
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cinnamon filling
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pepita filling
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 ounces pepitas (2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • Glaze
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
In This Recipe
  1. Prepare the dough: In a small pot, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pot to melt. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool to 110° to 115°F. (It should be warm to the touch, but not too hot.) Add the egg and sweet potato purée and stir to combine.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine the flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm milk mixture and mix just until incorporated.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed (or knead with your hands) until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a buttered bowl, cover it, and leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Prepare the cinnamon filling: Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and mash to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  5. Prepare the pepita filling: Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pepitas and salt and cook until lightly browned and popping, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar has melted and coated the pepitas, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and let cool.
  6. Butter the cast-iron pan. Tip out the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 12 x 11–inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the surface. Break up the sugared pepitas into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the cinnamon filling. Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the top seam closed. With a serrated knife, cut the roll crosswise into 10 equal pieces. Set them in the pan, spirals facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest until the dough has almost doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown and puffed and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 185° to 190°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Cook the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the freezer until cool and just beginning to solidify.
  9. Beat the chilled butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is exactly as thick as you like it.
  10. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then top with glaze. Let cool slightly before serving.

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